Risk of Frost

By Getty Stewart, Professional Home Economist

Its mid-September and the “risk of frost” warnings are being posted by Environment Canada.  How do you react?  Do you…

  • play the odds and take a chance that it won’t actually happen
  • play it safe and throw covers on anything requiring a little protection
  • put an end to this year’s garden and take out whatever isn’t hardy enough to withstand the cooler temps
What ever you do, we all know the end is near.  Cooler days and colder nights mean that those warm season veggies will soon be finished.  In fact, some will virtually stop all growth at 10 degrees Celcius (50 degrees F) and then if they’re hit with extended periods of frost (an hour or more of frost) the plants will die completely.
But don’t despair!  Now’s the time to look to those cool temp veggies and enjoy them to the fullest.
In case you’re wondering, here’s a chart showing the frost tolerance of common herbs and veggies.
Very Sensitive to Frost
Survives Light Frost
Very Tolerant of Frost
Basil
Broccoli
Beets
Bush Beans
Cauliflower
Brussel Sprouts
Cucumbers
Cilantro
Cabbage
Eggplant
Kohlrabi
Carrots
Melons
Leaf lettuce
Chives
Peppers
Mustard greens
Garlic
Pumpkins
Rosemary
Green Onions
Runner Beans
spinach
Kale
Squash
Swiss chard
Leeks
Thyme
Peas
Turnips
Potatoes
Radishes
Sage
What did I do?  Well, the first night I hummed and hahed all evening while my husband was encouraging me to roll the dice and let nature decide.  By 9:30pm I couldn’t stand it any longer and I raced down to the garden with a few blankies.  Of course, it was very dark down by the river.  And, I realized four blankies weren’t enough to cover half of what I needed to cover.  So there I was, with only the moonlight to guide me, picking peppers and as many tomatoes as I could.
By the second night, I tossed in the towel and picked the rest of my green tomatoes (no patience for hauling blankies to and from the garden).  I came home with a 30lb bag of them.  There was a brief rain an hour before, so unfortunately my tomatoes were damp and dirty.  When I came home, I sat in the kitchen drying my tomatoes, while Melanie was doing her “new math” homework. I’m not sure which one of us had the worst task!
Whatever you decide – Good luck!
*******************************
Getty Stewart is a Winnipeg-based Professional Home Economist passionate about connecting people with local fruits and veggies.  She is founder of Fruit Share, a volunteer run fruit rescuing program in Winnipeg, and blogger ofVeggieDelight, a blog about gardening on the banks of the Red River.  She is also Past President of the Manitoba Association of Home Economists.